This week, whilst everyone has been telling me how jealous they are, I’m not really feeling it as much as I thought I would. This reminds me of Australia. I’m sure I should have been squeeling, and hopping around like a mad thing for weeks before I went, but I wasn’t. I was pretty chilled really. It wasn’t until I hit Honkers that I actually though, OMG, this is real.
Monaco is much the same. Everyone (me included) who knows anything about F1, knows that Monaco is the special one. It’s the Jose Murhinio of Premiership Managers. It’s the Kris Akabusi of public speakers. It’s the Bombay Sapphire of gin and the iPad of tablets. It’s in an elite calendar but for some reason, it’s just extra special. So why am I not just saying “eeeeeek” to everyone? Probably because I’m tired. Who knows. But I’ve got to get there first!
So, having driven down in good time (not trusting the M1 for timing!) and worked from Alex’s in North London, I head up to Finchley Central tube. Here’s the first snagette – in Monaco, the forecast is thundery and it’s 20 degrees. However, for the first time in months, London is sporting a whopping 28 degrees with wall-to-wall sunshine. Glorious as this is, it makes me want to wear very little to travel (and pack layers to put on as it gets gradually colder) but I’ve no spare room in my luggage. So I have to trek, uphill, to the tube in jeans, top and jacket, with my luggage, in 28 degrees. By the time I hit the underground, I need a shower! But I won’t be put off – it’s all part of the adventure right?
So having got caught out last time (allowing 90 minutes to get to LHR on the Northern / Piccadilly lines and being at the gate 3 hours later with seconds to spare), this time I opted for the Heathrow express from Paddington. This was good (expensive, but quick), but getting to Paddington was just rubbish! Tube mayhem, lines closed, tourists out in force (due to the sunshine), I ended up thinking “sod it, hail a fast black”. Again, expensive, but it got me there in enough time to let me relax in the departure lounge with a G&T, and contemplate the trip ahead of me.
I think I like traveling. Sitting in departures just feels exciting. I could be flying to Bagby International, yet it feels exciting to be there. As it happens, I’m flying to Nice. I’ve no idea what time I arrive, or how I’ll get from Nice to Monaco, but I’ll worry about that when I get there. For now, I’m winding down from work and just starting to switch off.
OK, so I remember take-off, but at some point I missed the food and drink? Never mind. When do we land? 25 minutes. OK. I’ll look out of the window at the scenery. Hang on, there’s no cloud – what happened to all the rain forecast? Oh lord, I knew I should have packed my shorts…!
That was the smoothest landing I’ve ever had – I didn’t even know when we touched down. Good work Mr Pilot. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the French train network – yes, they’re on strike! So instead of the train to Monaco, I look for a bus. I’m actually glad I did this, as it meant I got to see the lights of the city and its harbour on the way in – wow. How beautiful is this? I’ve seen it by day, but not at night before, and it’s just stunning. As we get further into Monte Carlo, I’m breathless at the architecture too – quintessentially French but with a majestic glamour worthy of Caesarian Italy, cleanliness of a brand new car showroom, and non- uniformity of a city built into and around it’s mountainous location, rather than a grid pattern etched into it.
Regardless of the F1 excitement, Monaco is truly a beautiful city. Little streets, snickets and stepped alleyways, cafe culture and a language which just sounds peaceful. Every shop seems to have a framed photo of Prince Albert in the window, and… Oh, my, god,……… There’s a Haagen Dazs boutique in the park! Sorry guys, will write more later…